Celebrities 'hijacked' poverty campaign, say furious charities
By Maxine Frith, Social Affairs Correspondent
Published: 27 December 2005

Charities issued a harsh critique of the Make Poverty History campaign yesterday as they assessed its impact at the end of 2005.

The campaign, led by a coalition of 540 organisations, was launched amid fanfare on 1 January this year with a pledge to narrow the gap between the world's rich and poor. Yesterday, aid workers told how it had been "hijacked" by celebrities at the expense of real achievements in securing sold debts, aid and trade deals for the developing world. Events at the G8 summit in Gleneagles in July, attended by the campaigner Bob Geldof, attracted some of the strongest criticism.

Aid workers said that pledges announced by Tony Blair at the summit were not being carried out and that hardly any had yet to translate into real money. At the summit, 18 of the world's poorest countries were promised that their crippling debts would be cancelled by the world's richest nations. But six months later, no details have emerged of the debt cancellation plans.

Following the G8 Summit, Mr Geldof praised the Labour Government, giving them "10 out of 10" on debt relief progress and "eight out of 10" on aid issues.

But Aid workers were critical of the way in which Mr Geldof appraised the summit, with many organisations saying that the pledges were too little, too late.

Dave Timms, a spokesman for the World Development Movement, said that Mr Geldof's comments were misleading. He said: "The Make Poverty History Campaign was perhaps bravely naive and there were some good elements in that it raised public awareness. But people like us who have been campaigning for 30 years felt that some of the real issues became overshadowed by the hype.

"There are celebrities who really didn't seem to know what they were talking about and Bob Geldof's comments after the G8 were very unhelpful, because they made people think everything had been achieved."

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